CHAPLAINS' CORNER: Remembering our past to ensure our future

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Maj.) Bob Meissner
  • 452 AMW Chaplain Office
At the end of this month, we will celebrate Memorial Day once again. For many, it is a chance to enjoy a day off from work, perhaps go on a family outing or look for "savings events" which a variety of stores will offer.

But for many Americans, and certainly for those of us in the military, reflecting on the original intent of Memorial Day should give us pause to remember, with thanks, those Americans who bled and died to ensure peace and freedom for all of us. We don't celebrate war, but we remember what the price is to enjoy freedom. It was St. Augustine who said "the purpose of all war is peace."

What is it that inspires and enables ordinary citizens to rise to the challenge of battle, to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in service to their country? What is it that motivates them to respond and contribute, wherever and whenever called upon? I believe, at least in part, it's to ensure a better future for those we care the most about.

In my own faith tradition, Jesus said in the gospel of John, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay his life down for his friends" (John 15:13). This is a love not born of selfish ambition, but of values that go beyond one's self interest. It is valuing others before self, to the extent that, if necessary, one is willing to offer up one's life with the hope it will ensure a better tomorrow for those who follow.

We in this country owe a great debt of gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives so that we can live free. We can start to pay that debt by remembering what they did and what they stood for. Remembering our past reaffirms values that can be lost in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life or simply lost over time.

Use this Memorial Day to reflect on the values that should be most important to us and for which thousands have sacrificed their lives.

The importance of family: so we and our children can enjoy the freedoms and blessings of a free society.

The importance of faith: while our country is made up of people from many different faith backgrounds, or none at all, our forefathers recognized the importance of people being able to worship and serve their God, unhindered from the outside influence of government.

A renewed love for country: No nation is perfect; ours is no exception. But ours is a nation that has seen unprecedented prosperity and opportunity for peoples of all nations.

Memorial Day is a time for personal reflection and perhaps changing our priorities. So often in our busy lives, we focus inwardly. When we remember the price others paid, we remember the bigger things in life: faith, family and friends. Then we can begin to look outward, to see what we can do to contribute to our families, communities and nation.

Remembering the past can lead to a better future. Thank you for serving with me.